What is child protection?
The Scottish approach to child protection is based upon the protection of children's rights.
The Getting it Right for Every Child (GIRFEC) policy and practice model is a practical expression of the Scottish Government's commitment to implementation of the United Nations Convention on Rights of the Child (UNCRC).
This requires a continuum of preventative and protective work.
Child protection refers to the processes involved in the consideration, assessment and planning of required action, together with the actions themselves, where there are concerns that a child may be at risk of harm.
Child protection guidance provides overall direction for agencies and professional disciplines where there are concerns that a child may be at risk of harm.
Child protection procedures are initiated when police, social work or health professionals determine that a child may have been abused or may be at risk of significant harm. This approach is detailed in the National Guidance for Child Protection in Scotland 2021.
Child protection is part of a continuum of collaborative duties upon agencies working with children.
The Getting it Right for Every Child (GIRFEC) approach promotes and supports planning for such services to be provided in the way which best safeguards, supports and promotes the wellbeing of children and ensures that any action to meet needs is taken at the earliest appropriate time to prevent acute needs arising.
Single-agency responsibilities for child protection
All services and professional bodies should have clear policies in place for identifying, sharing and acting upon concerns about risk of harm to a child or children.
Each practitioner remains accountable for their own practice and must adhere to their own professional guidelines, standards and codes of professional conduct.
Practitioners at all levels in all services, including third sector and private sector services, should have information, advice and training to make them aware of potential risks to children and to support their knowledge and confidence about steps they might take to keep children safe.
Religious leaders, practitioners and volunteers within faith organisations have a unifying priority in relation to the protection of children.
They may provide regulated care as well as a wide range of voluntary support services.
Faith organisations, including churches, provide carefully planned activities for children, supporting families under stress and caring for those hurt by abuse in the past, as well as ministering to and managing those who have caused harm.
Within these varied roles, all reasonable steps must be taken to provide a safe environment that promotes and supports the wellbeing of children and young people. This includes careful selection and appointment of those who work with children. It also means ensuring practitioners and volunteers are confident about how to respond promptly, in line with agreed protocols, when concerns arise about risk of harm to a child from abuse or neglect.
Safeguarding Co‑ordinators and Safeguarding Advisers or Officers should be available for consultation within faith organisations. They will work with Social Workers and Police Officers as and when required.
Practitioners and volunteers with church and faith organisations must report concerns about harm to a child to their line manager or Safeguarding Co‑ordinator.
The safety of the child or adult at risk is the priority.